MYtv Update - Spring 2014

 

1 April, 2014

UPDATE ON COMMUNITY TV

INTERVENTION DEADLINE APRIL 22

 

Last September, Vidéotron applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a licence to operate an English-language community channel in the greater Montreal area. 

 

Backstory

ELAN has been concerned about this issue for many years because Vidéotron has failed to provide community television for its English-speaking subscribers since it acquired the old CFCF cable channel and closed it down two years later.  In 2010 ELAN was encouraged by the Chairman of the CRTC to enter into dialogue with Vidéotron's French-language community TV channel (VOX at the time), and VOX management manifested absolutely no interest in working with English-language producers or providing English-language content.

When Vidéotron's licence came up for renewal last summer, ELAN approached the new management of Vidéotron's French-language community channel (MAtv) and they were immediately receptive to working with English-language producers and providing English-language content. Rather than reserve a few hours on the French-language channel, MAtv management proposed to create an entire English-language channel, provisionally named MYtv.  On September 23, MAtv’s President, Isabelle Dessureault, and Director General, Steve Desgagné, presented their MYtv proposal at a public information session.  Four Op Eds were published in the Montreal Gazette last October commenting on the MYtv proposal.

ELAN, QCGN, and many other community groups and individuals made interventions to the CRTC supporting Vidéotron's MYtv proposal on a conditional basis. We had concerns about the past and questions about the future, and therefore demanded that Vidéotron provide additional guarantees to the community and the CRTC of the benefits that the English-speaking community will enjoy. If Vidéotron responds to these demands, MYtv will benefit Quebec's English-speaking community in a number of important ways.

 

Winter Update

A few days before the end of the CRTC’s initial public intervention process concerning MYtv on October 7, the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) decided not to collaborate with ELAN, QCGN, and everyone else who conditionally supported MYtv, and allied itself with a newly created group calling itself  Independent Community Television Montreal (ICTV). ICTV then filed a formal complaint against Vidéotron.  

ICTV's main charges against Vidéotron are that MAtv Montreal airs no community access programming, and that because MAtv broadcasts only in French it has ignored Montreal's English-speaking, aboriginal, and cultural communities since the '90s.

CRTC gave Vidéotron until March 17 (2014) to provide a point-by-point response to ICTV's complaints against its past record. While ELAN agrees with most of ICTV's complaints about the past, we believe they could be resolved by the new MYtv English community channel. That is why ELAN continues to support Vidéotron's MYtv proposal so long as Vidéotron fulfills its promises and its obligations to the official language minority.

 

April 22 Deadline: CRTC Interventions re Complaint

ELAN will submit an intervention to the CRTC commenting on ICTV’s complaint, and recommending strong guarantees from Vidéotron to support meaningful community involvement in MYtv.  ELAN will also explain that it does not support the ICTV proposal for four principal reasons.

1) ICTV’s model is based on the work of unpaid volunteers. As an artists’ network, ELAN supports the creation of content that would lead to paid work for producers, filmmakers, artists, and other creative members of our  community.

2) MYtv's model of 50% “open access” content provides a sufficiently wide diversity of community programming. We would like to see the other 50% of production made with higher production values and devoted to stories with broad community interest.  For example, some well-produced half hour programs about how the English-speaking communities have contributed to building modern Quebec, and have produced an extraordinary number of colourful characters whose stories deserve to be told and shared.  These programs, dubbed or subtitles in French could also e aired on the French MAtv channel.

3) ICTV's model proposes one multilingual station rather than two stations (MAtv French, MYtv English) and will reduce English community programming from 100% in the MYtv proposal to only 20% in the ICTV proposal. (The single, multi-lingual ICTV channel proposes 50% French language content, 20% English, and 30% in other languages or bilingual.)

4) ICTV's multilingual model will also reduce French community programming from 100% currently broadcast on MAtv to only 50% in the ICTV proposal. This would lead to unintended negative consequences between the majority and minority communities.

Note 1. On March 29, Vidéotron president Isabelle Dessureault told the Montreal Gazette (MYtv community channel put on ice as CRTC evaluates complaint) that Vidéotron had hoped to launch MYtv this June but because of the statements made by ICTV, which they consider “defamatory”and because of the complaint against MAtv, “now everything is dead. All this is on hold” for MYtv.  In a March 31 interview with Le Devoir (Touche pas à mon poste!) Isabelle Dessureault stated that the English-language channel was now delayed by “at least a year” but that the first step toward creating MYtv is to obtain the licence from CRTC.

Note 2. The CRTC process regarding the ICTV complaint remains open until April 22. At this stage, interventions from the community are critical to ensure we obtain an English community channel with as much local control as the CRTC will allow. Next week ELAN will circulate a sample intervention outlining key issues and their implications, as well as instructions on how to navigate CRTC's website.  This information will be available on this page of ELAN's website. You can submit comments via the CRTC website until April 22 by clicking here.

If you have specific questions please send them along by email to guyrodgers@quebec-elan.org or give me a call at 514.935.3312.

 

Guy Rodgers

Executive Director

 

Links for further information: 

March 17 Vidéotron response to CRTC information request

March 31 Le Devoir article by Stéphane Baillargeon: Touche pas à mon poste !

March 28 Gazette article by Steve Faguy: MYtv put on ice as CRTC evaluates complaint

March 24 blog post by Steve Faguy: The battle over Vidéotron's community TV channel

ICTV complaint

 

 



 
 

Key Points from MYtv Discussions - Fall 2013

 

Vidéotron’s Vision of MYtv (as clarified through public discussion with MAtv’s Isabelle Dessureault and Steve Desgagné at Sept. 23 meeting)

MAtv’s 2013/14 launch video gives an example of what MYtv’s programming mix might look like:

 

 

Important Considerations

Final Thoughts

 

Useful Resources

List of interventions to CRTC re: MYtv 

ELAN: Intervention to CRTC re: MYtv (PDF)

ELAN: Gazette op-ed

Vidéotron: MYtv press release

Vidéotron: Application to CRTC to create MYtv (zip file)

Fagstein: Sept. 5 post on Vidéotron application and Sept. 19 post on ELAN public meeting

 

Read more about ELAN's work on this file:

Community TV Update - July 2013

June 18, 2013 Press Release